Jonathan Newman, the founder and CEO of Chi, started out as a writer and director of feature films, but has since found another passion: Coconuts.
Today, his company, Chi, supplies more than 3,000 stores in the U.K. and stores in 30 countries worldwide with coconut water and other coconut products including oil and milk.
Jonathan recently chatted with us about how he became so passionate about coconuts and the benefits of coconut water. Here's the skinny:
Can you tell us a bit about your journey to becoming the founder of Chi?
In 2004, I was honeymooning in Phi Phi Island in Thailand, and it was there that I first starting drinking coconut water. With coconut trees adorning our island, these young green coconuts were plucked fresh. They were cut open and then a straw was placed inside. That's how I drank at least five coconuts a day. When drinking coconut water, I felt an immediate difference in my well being. I felt energized, hydrated, healthy and balanced, and my general fatigue and blurred eyes all seemed to disappear.
A few years later back in London I discovered packaged coconut juice drinks. Having tried many of the market leaders, I found the taste unpalatable, the nutritional claims not matching the product, and the product sometimes deceptively including bleach, extra sugar, fructose or flavoring. I thought I could do a lot better than this. That was my starting point. I'm a filmmaker by trade and have no retail experience whatsoever. Everyone must have thought I was somewhat mad when I went back to Thailand in 2011, having raised the seed capital necessary to fund the business. I drove around looking everywhere for the perfect coconuts for our own coconut juice drink.
Finally, in a region known for having some of the sweetest coconuts in Thailand, I met the owner of what was to become our coconut plantation for Chi.
I've tested Chi coconut water against some of the leading coconut juice drinks on the market. I went to yoga schools and held blind taste tests. Our coconut water won in every single taste test. If you ask me, it's the sweetness of our coconuts.
We then set about designing our brand. It seemed all our competitors had the word "coco" in the name, and the same stock image of a green coconut on the front. We wanted to break the mold with our name and our packaging. "Chi" means "life force" - which seemed the perfect way to describe our product.
Our coconut water, which is 100-percent pure, with no added sugar, no added preservatives and no chemicals, also deserved premium packaging unlike any other on the market. We commissioned a very special "chi island" illustration for the package which is symbolic of balance, hydration and provenance.
Does your company have a personal mission statement?
Passion. Integrity. Highest Standrads for Quality. Creative.
At Chi we believe that you should be passionate about everything you do. We really care about our products and our loyal customers.
We believe that we should always be honest. That's why our products are 100-percent pure and natural. We would never hide any ingredients or nasties.
We are a hard working team at Chi. This is because we are focused on being the best we can be, as a team, as individuals and with our products. We are determined to only give our customers the best quality.
Creativity keeps us fresh and up-to-date. We love nothing more than coming up with new products, new ways to grow Chi and new ways to stay in touch with our fans.
What are the health benefits of coconut water?
Coconut water hydrates you quicker than water due to the high electrolyte content. With twice as much potassium as a banana, coconut water gives you a natural burst of energy,
What about the beauty benefits of coconut water?
Coconut water is good for your skin, anti-aging and slimming as part of a calorie-controlled diet.
Is coconut water a good thirst quencher for hydration during a workout or while playing sports?
The best! It's a like a sports drink but without the added preservatives or sugar. It is nature's sports drink.
Does coconut water have added ingredients?
None. It is 100 percent pure with nothing added or taken away.
What is a common myth about coconut water you wish you permanently debunk?
Some people are polarized by the taste. That's because there are some substandard waters on the market. Our coconut water is raw, organic and unpasturised. We'd go so far as to say it's the best you will ever taste.